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Tech Startup: Cinebody app automatically uploads footage to the cloud

The power of the cloud: instant distribution



WHERE: Denver 


Scott McDonald and Gavin Anstey worked together at Lumenati, the Denver video production company McDonald founded in 2015.

During production for clients, Lumenati’s crew would use iPhones to shoot and social media to distribute “quick behind-the-scenes edits,” McDonald says. “Those were gaining a lot of traction, more traction than the commercial.”

But the iPhone wasn’t ideal. Shooting with it was awkward and unwieldy, McDonald says. “Everybody felt really dumb using it. We said, ‘How can we fix this?’”

McDonald and Anstey set out to create an iPhone-encasing body that would mimic the “coolest camera ever,” a retro Super 8 model funded by a Kickstarter campaign, manufactured in China and launched to the retail market in early 2016.

But the $150 Cinebody spawned a software platform of the same name that allows a horde of users to shoot and upload footage to the cloud. It’s quickly gaining traction in pilots with Nike, Red Bull, Tropicana and other high-profile Lumenati clients.

“We built this beta software program while building the hardware,” McDonald says. “The real business is that.”


Numerous users shoot footage with their iPhones or other iOS devices anywhere on the planet, and the Cinebody app automatically uploads the footage to the cloud. Lumenati can edit the footage into a finished spot, or in-house teams at agencies or brands can handle the task.

The turnaround is speedy. “That’s the power of the cloud: instant distribution,” McDonald says. “Twenty minutes after it’s done, it’s edited, polished and out on social media.”

In late 2016, Nike used the platform to produce an ad with footage shot by running clubs all over the world. “That gave us the go-ahead that people could use this at events or concerts,” McDonald says. He’s since pitched the concept to creative agencies and major brands and says he got a notably positive response.

Platform subscription fees start at $1,000 a month for smaller businesses and go up to $5,000 for larger companies.

Cinebody is releasing a software update and new camera case in spring 2017. “We have one coming out that mimics the retro Sony Handycams with the flip-out viewfinder,” McDonald says.

The plan is to launch a “freemium” model for the platform and a cardboard version of the case. “Free users would be able to participate in brand campaigns,” McDonald says. A cardboard Cinebody “would be affordable to every single person at Coachella,” the annual musical extravaganza in the California desert.


The market for video content is massive and trending toward Cinebody’s model of affordable spots served in bite-sized chunks.

“Brands spend $1 million on an ad, but there’s a 24-hour timeline before that content’s dead,” McDonald says of the initial idea behind Cinebody. “How would it be to create 365 pieces of content for the same price as one piece of content?”


“Lumenati’s self-funded,” McDonald says. “Cinebody raised a total of $1.3 million in our first seed round.” Lead investor Bryan Singer, director of numerous “X-Men” movies and “The Usual Suspects,” “was thrilled to invest in a company that fits his life’s work.”

While McDonald says he’d love to scale without more outside capital, it’s unlikely to happen. “We’ve been exploring the idea of a Series A and spoken to a few venture guys,” he says.

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Eric Peterson

Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com

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